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An ice storm hit the Austin area the week of Jan. 30. Hundreds of thousands of residents and businesses lost power as ice-covered trees toppled power lines across the city.

Everyone's warning Austinites not to drive in this weather. Here’s what to do if you have to.

A car, apartment complex and trees covered in ice, with the downtown Austin skyline behind.
Michael Minasi
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the Austin area until Thursday morning. Freezing rain is expected to continue through the day, with temperatures getting slightly above freezing Wednesday.

The City of Austin and Texas Department of Transportation are urging Texans to avoid driving Wednesday, as freezing rain and ice accumulation are expected to continue through Thursday morning.

The Austin Police Department, Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services Department and Austin Fire Department responded to more than 300 traffic collisions Tuesday. First responders have also been impacted by the icy roadways, the city said, as several were injured while responding to crashes.

The city said many crashes are preventable and that residents can help first responders by not driving unless absolutely necessary.

If you do have to drive, follow these tips from Austin Public Works, TxDot and AAA:

Before driving

  • Check conditions at 
  • Have an emergency supplies kit in your vehicle that includes blankets, jumper cables, emergency lights and a cellphone charger
  • Remove snow and ice from your vehicle
  • Maintain your vehicle in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations
  • Ensure headlights and tail lights are functioning properly
  • Make sure your tires are properly inflated and have plenty of tread
  • Make sure you have at least half a tank of gas at all times
  • Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage

While driving

  • Drive slowly and turn carefully, planning additional time for travel
  • Maintain a greater distance with cars in front of you and don't follow them too closely
  • Avoid elevated roads, such as overpasses and bridges
  • Approach bridges, shaded spots and turns slowly
  • Don’t stop if you can avoid it
  • Avoid sudden braking or accelerating to maintain traction
  • Build some momentum before approaching a hill and try not to apply extra gas while going up
  • Don’t use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface
  • Stop all the way at a dark or flashing red traffic signal
  • Remain in your vehicle if you are in a collision
  • If you are skidding, stop braking and accelerating and don't jerk the steering wheel

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